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What is whiplash and what treatment is best for whiplash injuries?

What is a Whiplash injury ?

Whiplash is an injury that occurs due to acceleration and deceleration forces experienced at high velocities. The best example of this is a car accident involving a collision with another vehicle. The impact of the collision with the vehicle at speed, causes a sudden and forceful accelerated forward motion, followed by a sudden "whipping back" of the head or body - a forceful backward motion responding to the sudden deceleration in movement.   

A lot of people think that whiplash injuries are confined to the neck region only but this is not the case. Whiplash can affect all areas of the spine, including the neck (also known as the cervical spine), the mid-back region (also known as the thoracic spine), and the lower back region (also known as the lumbar spine).  But Whiplash can also affect other areas of the body too, including causing injuries to the shoulders and hips. This is because the forces involved in the collision, can exert such a jarring effect on these areas of the body, that it causes injury.

What causes a Whiplash injury ?

Most of you would be well aware of "rear-ender" motor vehicle accidents.  This is where a car following another vehicle collides with the rear of the vehicle in front of it, because the driver fails to observe the car in front or sees it too late. In such accidents, whiplash injury is common and rear-ender car crashes, are a well known cause of whiplash injuries.

But your accident does not need to be a rear-ender motor vehicle accident for you to suffer whiplash injuries. Any accident which results in a force exerting a forward and backwards motion on the body, can cause Whiplash. So if you are T-boned in an accident, or experience a head-on collision, you will still be experiencing the acceleration and deceleration forces which cause Whiplash injuries. And you do not even have to be in a collision for this type of injury to occur. For example, The Personal Injury Lawyers have seen Whiplash injuries sustained in a case where a vehicle has had to pull up suddenly and with such force to avoid a collision with another vehicle, that Whiplash injuries are sustained.

Whiplash symptoms

Immediately following an accident, whiplash symptoms may not necessarily appear until some hours or even the next day following the accident. We hear whiplash victims often describing how the pain and stiffness or heaviness in their neck will not start to appear until hours later, or they will wake the next morning and be unable to lift their head from the pillow or get out of bed. And back pain and stiffness may not be noticed until days after the accident. Often it starts with a pain in the back region, whether mid or lower back, with long periods of standing or sitting, that was never experienced previously. Or the back will feel like it is locking up when bending. These are all symptoms of whiplash injuries:

  • Neck or back pain;
  • A feeling of heaviness about the neck and shoulder region (some describe it as being like a small child sitting on their shoulders);
  • Neck or back stiffness with movement;
  • Stiffness and pain after long periods of sitting or standing or static positioning (eg. sitting watching a movie, standing in a queue, or even after sleeping at night);
  • Reduced movement in the back or neck, limiting looking sideways or up and down, bending, twisting or turning;
  • Pain in your back or neck with reaching up, behind or out from your body;
  • Pain or altered sensation (pins and needles or numbness) radiating into the jaw, chest, shoulders, arms or fingers;
  • Pain or altered sensation (pins and needles or numbness (radiating from the lower back into the buttocks or into the legs);
  • Headaches or migraines (these are caused by muscle spasm in the neck or upper back and can occur almost immediately following the accident or may not appear for a year or more post-accident).
It is very important that when you suffer any pain or stiffness, or any of the above symptoms in your neck or back following an accident, you see your local doctor or go to the Hospital to report your injuries, so that there is documented medical evidence of the injuries you have sustained in the accident. If you leave reporting of your injuries for too long, this can lead to arguments by the insurer as to whether your reporting of injury is actually resulting from the accident or some other intervening event since the accident.
 

Whiplash injuries can be sinister injuries causing real problems later on 

Often people think that Whiplash injuries are only minor transient injuries that resolve over time following an accident. But this is not always the case. Although whiplash injuries can improve over the first few months following an accident so that they seem to have resolved, they can result in ongoing difficulties and persisting symptoms. These symptoms usually involve ongoing pain or restriction with certain movements or exertive tasks (eg. lifting and carrying), as well as difficulties with long periods of standing or sitting or static positioning which will result in pain and stiffness, and the need to change positions and move about to releive symptomatology.  Some suffer increasing debilitating headaches or migraines following an accident, that can become more frequent and intensify over time.

Often because those who suffer Whiplash become used to their injury and their restrictions, they don't take notice of the real impact these injuries have upon their everyday living, recreational, social, domestic and employment activities, but when they think about their pre-accident lifestyle and activities, then they can see that they have had to change what they do or avoid doing certain tasks or activities because of their Whiplash injuries.  

Also, what a Whiplash injury can cause is an acceleration of the normal degenerative process. All of us are degenerating after we reach a certain age. From the moment we stop growing, we start to degenerate. What Whiplash injuries do is cause this natural degenerative process to speed up, or become worse. This means that although you may think your Whiplash injuries has resolved, with just a few niggles now and again, down the track, as you age, you may very well experience increased problems in the areas of your injury. This can result in reduced sitting and standing tolerances, limitations with lifting and carrying, restrictions with mobility and movement generally, and even regular occurrences of debilitating headaches and migraines. 

Because Whiplash injuries can be quite sinister in that their real impact may not start to be seen until many months or years following an accident, this can result in many accident victims missing out on much needed compensation, when these types of injuries can start to impact on a person's employment or ability to care for their home or family, because they have missed time limits that apply to bringing claims for such injuries.

Time limits apply to bringing claims for Whiplash injuries.

The Personal Injury Lawyers are very much aware that a lot of people do not appreciate the problems that can arise as a result of Whiplash injuries and how they can have a very significant detrimental impact on a person's employment and capacity to care for their home and family. Often they do not find this out until it is too late after time periods for bringing a personal injury claim has lapsed. We have seen this over and over again. We will often receive enquiries from accident victims who tell us that they have been experiencing increasing problems with their work or caring for their home or children due to whiplash injuries sustained years previously, but we have to tell them they are out of time to bring their claim.  This can be devastating in some cases, particularly where the person's earning capacity has been seriously impacted.

What we want to do is make it known to anyone who suffers a Whiplash injury how important it is that they take the necessary steps to ensure that they are protected in the future so this does not happen. If you have sustained a whiplash injury you need to contact The Personal Injury Lawyers as soon as possible following your accident so that we can do this for you. You can contact us via telephone on 1300 782 202 or by clicking on the following claim enquiry linkWe also have a free Livechat service if you would like to chat now about your Whiplash injury.  All initial enquiries are free and you are under no obligation in making such an enquiry. And all enquiries are totally confidential.  

 

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